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Copying for people with a disability

The Australian Copyright Act contains two provisions allowing the copying of material into accessible formats for people with a disability to enable them to access the material. The Act defines a disability as anything causing a person difficulty in reading, viewing, hearing or accessing content. The provisions cover any material covered by copyright, including books, journals, and audio-visual material.

The first provision is fair dealing for access to copyright material by persons with a disability (s113E). To be considered a fair dealing, you should consider:

  • Is the material commercially available in the accessible format preferred by the person with the disability? If so, you should acquire the copy and not rely on fair dealing
  • Is the purpose of the use to facilitate access and not for other purposes?
  • Is the use educational and non-commercial?

Unlike other fair dealing purposes, when copying material into accessible formats for people with a disability it will often be fair to copy an entire work.

Examples of fair dealing for access by people with a disability:

  • Making adjustments to the size and colour of graphs, tables, text, etc
  • Scanning a book for use with assistive technology
  • Providing audio descriptions.

The second provision is for the use of copyright material by institutions assisting a person with a disability (s113F). This permits Curtin to make accessible format copies of copyright material for people with a disability. Before making the copy, Curtin must check for commercial availability to ensure the use does not unreasonably impact on the commercial interests of the copyright holder. If we are satisfied that the material is not commercially available in the accessible format required, or cannot be obtained within a reasonable time or at an ordinary commercial price, then we can proceed with making the copy. The Act also permits Curtin to import and export accessible format copies to other countries. For further assistance and support with this process contact Curtin AccessAbility Services.